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9 Mozart Street Private Bag 13386 Windhoek Namibia Tel. +264 61 232975 Fax. +264 61 248016 e-mail: email@example.com Alternate contact address: firstname.lastname@example.org IN THIS EDITION: NEWS: * LESOTHO JOURNALIST SHOT, BUT LEG IS SAVED. * MISANET IS GO! * MINISTER DISRUPTS LIVE BROADCAST * "CHILUBA SMOKES DAGGA" * POLICE CALLED IN TO FIND "MEDIA MOLE" * BUSINESS AS USUAL IN MALAWI? * ARMY CHIEF CALLS FOR "REDEFINITION" OF MEDIA FREEDOM * MORE ANGOLA WOES * POLICE RAID PRINTING PRESSES * SEDITION LAW STILL LURKING/LOFFLER SITS TIGHT * NEW LAW SPARKS HUMAN RIGHTS FEARSFEATURES:
TECHNOLOGY: * INFORMATION AGE? WHAT INFORMATION AGE? * PANA UP-DATE * MISA ON LINE COMMENTARY: * JUSTICE JOHN MANYARARA ON ZIMBABWE'S LANDMARK SOURCES CASE ADVERTISING * INFORMATION FROM THE MEDIA MARKET PLACE @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ NEWS: Wounded Journalist's Leg Saved
LESOTHO: Swift action by journalist organisations around the world has saved the leg of a young journalist shot by soldiers during King Letsie III's overthrow of Lesotho's democratically elected government.
On August 17, Rabuka Chalatse, 24, was outside the King's palace in the capital Maseru, covering a peaceful demonstration by several thousand protesters opposing the royal coup, when members of the Lesotho security forces opened fire on the crowd. Mr Chalatse, a reporter with the Lesotho weekly MoAfrika, was hit in the left leg with a live round, and had to be rushed to hospital in the back of a pick-up truck, together with others wounded in the shooting. Five people died in the soldiers' hail of bullets.
So bad was Mr Chalatse's wound that it was likely his mutilated leg would be amputated unless he received sophisticated emergency treatment in neighbouring South Africa.
On the evening of the shooting, MoAfrica publisher Candi Ramainoane asked the MISA Secretariat to try and raise funds for his journalist's treatment. MISA staff immediately issued an appeal on the IFEX network, and began phoning media freedom organisations for help.
Within an hour, Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) had guaranteed to raise the necessary money, and the following morning - August 18 - Mr Chalatse was transferred to Bloemfontein's Hydromed Hospital, where he underwent surgery.
"I have never seen a limb so badly damages," says Mr Chalatse's surgeon, who cannot be named for professional reasons. "You can feel proud of your organisations; you have certainly saved a man's leg." Large quantities of the journalist's bone and flesh have been shot away, and a further bone graft - costing between U$2300 and U$4300, depending on how well the wound heals - will be necessary to enable him to walk properly again.
The initial surgery cost in the region of U$4600, and to date, RSF, Reporters Respond, Journalisten Helfen Journalisten, the International Federation of Editors and Publishers, and the International Federation of Journalists have, between them, pledged U$5600 for Mr Chalatse's treatment.
Journalists in Lesotho are planning their own fund- raising, to include a concert tour by Mr Ramainoane, who is also a leading musician. Further pledges should be made via the MISA Secretariat (Tel. +264 61 232975, Fax. +264 61 248016, e-mail email@example.com). - own sources.
Troops Guard Radio
Soldiers surrounded the studios of Radio Lesotho during the King Letsie III's overthrow of the country's democratically elected government. After the King seized power on August 17, a small group of soldiers guarded the radio station while the King's announcement that he was dissolving the government and parliament was repeatedly broadcast. Shortly after his take-over, the King issued a decree giving legal indemnity to anyone in his service, a move which journalists at the time feared would pave the way for un-checked abuses of human rights. However, there were not reports of subsequent, wide- scale human rights violations, and the King finally succumbed to intense internal and external pressure, ceding power back to the government the following month.
SOUTHERN AFRICAN media organisations have begun exchanging news via electronic mail (e-mail). Established by MISA with funds from the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA), the "MISANET" will link independent newspapers, broadcasters and training institutions in southern Africa to e-mail. This is in a bid to overcome poor, slow and costly communication links which currently hamper the free-flow of information in the region. Until now, southern African journalists, and thus their audiences, have been cut off from each other because phone lines in the region are bad, the cost of faxing is prohibitively high, and the post is slow and notoriously unreliable. As a result, media organisations in the region have had to rely largely on euro-centric international news and photo agencies for occasional stories and images about their neighbours.
"Many of our members live in virtual isolation from each other," says Bruce Cohen, MISA representative for South Africa who co-ordinates the MISANET project. "By establishing the MISANET, we hope to provide a cheap and reliable means of information exchange."
"By playing an active role in facilitating the development of these networks in southern Africa, MISA has the potential to contribute meaningfully to the breaking down of communication barriers in the region, as well as from South to North," Cohen adds. South Africa's Weekly Mail and Guardian newspaper, The Namibian in Namibia, and the MISA Secretariat now have access to e-mail, and are exchanging news stories and information on media freedom issues. It is envisaged that at least another 15 member organisations will be on line and participating in the news exchange by the end of the year, and interest from outside subscribers - among them academic institutions, non-governmental organisations and individuals - is already hot.
Managed by the MISA Secretariat, the news exchange - which is to include human rights information and economics news - is currently operating on a list- server system. Experiments with sending photographs via e-mail have also proved successful, and a photographic exchange should be underway soon. In the long run, MISA plans to develop facilities on the MISANET which will allow members and other subscribers e-mail access to the organisation's electronic archives. In the meantime, MISA publications, such as the "Free Press" newsletter, are sent to e-mail subscribers on request.
For further information about the MISANET, contact MISA Information Co-ordinator David Lush at: e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. +264 61 232975, Fax. +264 61 248016, Private Bag 13386, Windhoek, Namibia. - own sources
Minister Disrupts Broadcast
SOUTH AFRICA: Home Affairs Minister Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi has offered what President Nelson Mandela terms an "unconditional apology" for disrupting a live television interview.
Dr Buthelezi and his bodyguards burst into the Durban studios of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on September 29 as his rival, Prince Sifiso Zulu, was being interviewed on the live Agenda programme.
The interview was abandoned as a scuffle ensued and a gun was drawn, all because Dr Buthelezi apparently took offence at Prince Sifiso's comment that the Minister - who is also President of the Zulu- dominated opposition Inkatha Freedom Party - was not the rightful advisor to Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.
Dr Buthelezi was "severely censured" by cabinet for his actions and, according to a statement issued by Mr Mandela, the Minister had "offered an unconditional apology to the Cabinet, and conveyed his intention to do so personally to the nation as a whole".
Mr Mandela said Dr Buthelezi's action "constituted a serious violation of the right to freedom of speech and the freedom of the press", and was "a direct challenge to the very constitution which all ministers of government are sworn to protect and respect."
The cabinet had accepted Dr Buthelezi's apology, the President added.
- The Namibian, SABC
Now 'chiluba Smokes Dagga'!
ZAMBIA: Saucy headlines and controversial stories continue to land The Post newspaper in trouble with the Zambian authorities, who have now resorted to bombarding the paper and its staff with court orders. Eight Post journalists past and present - Managing Director Fred M'membe, Bright Mwape, Goliath Mongonge, Nkonkomalimba Kafunda, Masautso Phiri, Dingi Chirwa, Jowrie Mwinga, and Peter Chilambwe - together with a reporter with the now-defunct Standard, Magayo Mambo, were arrested and charged on various counts as part of what the paper's lawyer calls a campaign of government-orchestrated harassment. They appeared in court on August 26 for a preliminary hearing.
Between them, the journalists are charged with criminally libelling President Frederick Chiluba and his press secretary Richard Sakala, printing and possessing classified documents, and publishing false stories with intent to bring fear and alarm to the public. M'membe has been charged on all counts. According to The Post's lawyer, Sakwiba Sikota, the charges relate to articles published by the paper, including a profile on Mr Sakala in which the press secretary was referred to as "Trickey Dickey", a report on a former minister's allegations that President Chiluba was involved in drug trafficking and smoking marijuana, The Post's publication of classified plans by the government to scrap housing allowances for civil servants, and a report stating that the United Nations had accused Zambia of assisting UNITA rebels in neighbouring Angola.
Mr Sikota believes the latest charges - all of them criminal - were motivated by those outside the police force. "It would be a lie for the police to claim they were acting independently," he says, citing the fact that some of the latest charges relate to stories published more than 18 months ago, while others have to do with reports which appeared in The Post this month.
"They (the staff of The Post) are almost becoming used to this constant harassment...although, of course, it disrupts them a lot in terms of their work," says Mr Sikota. - Own sources
Police Called In To Find 'moles'
NAMIBIA: A minister has launched a police investigation into the "theft" of an "internal discussion document" leaked to the media. The document - written by a government seal expert - recommended there should be no harvest of Namibian seals this year. The expert's advice was ignored, and the government authorised the largest seal harvest in the country's history, sparking heated public debate, and outrage from conservationists.
It was then that the expert's report was anonymously given to the media, prompting Fisheries Minister Helmut Angula to call in the police to investigate a charge of theft. "Let there be no doubt my Ministry and our Government will do everything possible to flush out such moles amidst our ranks, also those presumably planted by the press...," Mr Angula said in a statement issued on August 31.
Emphasising his "commitment" to media freedom, Mr Angula said the government would continue to inform the public "through established channels" on matters of "public interest". But "there was no reason at all, except with ill intentions to the detriment of Namibia, to reveal to the media an internal discussion document".
However, the Journalists Association of Namibia (JAN) felt the report should never have been kept secret. "The fact that the report was apparently suppressed conflicts with the government's often stated policy of transparency and accountability," said JAN Chairperson, Protasius Ndauendapo.
Government officials were tipped off about the report's leak by a journalist working for the parastatal Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), and NBC management said anyone found "guilty" of such "unprofessional behaviour" would be forced to resign - an approach which reminded Mr Angula "of some neo-fascist utterances of the Pinochet type". "I find it strange that this public enterprise (the NBC) established by act of Parliament and solely dependent on state appropriation for its survival, regards themselves to be at war with Government, and plans to flush out what they perceive to be Government informers". - own sources
Business As Usual?
MALAWI: Malawi's democratically elected government has used laws inherited from the previous regime of Dr Kamuzu Banda to ban a newspaper. Two months after coming to power, Justice Minister Wenham Nakanga successfully applied to the High Court for a injunction stopping the distribution of the July 20 issue of The Malawian in terms of the Protect Flag, Emblems and Names Act. The offending edition carried a photo taken in the 1960's of Dr Banda's successor, President Bakili Muluzi, wearing prison uniform.
However, the ban was later lifted by Mr Muluzi, who said he had not been consulted on the issue, and pledged to repeal "those laws which make it difficult for the media to operate".
The President said his government wanted the press to be "as free as possible", but added that he expected journalists to act responsibly and to "report things that are beneficial to our people."
Meanwhile, on September 3, police officers beat up and detained without charge Editor of the weekly Independent newspaper, David Nthengwe. Mr Nthengwe and a friend were walking home from a bar in Blantyre when they were stopped and assaulted by five armed policemen. "When I told them who I was, they started beating me even harder," says Nthengwe. "'This is the man who writes bad things about the UDF and President Muluzi,"' the journalists recalls one assailant saying.
The two were then taken to Blantyre Central police station where they were kept without charge for several hours before being driven to hospital for treatment. According to Mr Nthengwe, the police officer in charge told his colleagues they should have killed the editor as "'these journalists are a problem'".
When Mr Nthengwe and his friend reported to the police station the following Sunday and Monday, as instructed, where they were further detained, but were never charged.
The Journalists Association of Malawi (JAMA) demanded that police chief Feyani Chikosa should account for the treatment Mr Nthengwe and his friend received from the police.
JAMA was also awaiting the outcome of police investigations into an attack in May by supporters of Dr Banda on Limbani Moya, a journalist working for The Nation newspaper, and an assault on Michiru Sun journalist George Ntonya by Malawi Young Pioneers vigilantes in July. - own sources, Article 19.
"Redefine Media Freedom" - Army Chief
BOTSWANA: Army chief, Lieutenant General Ian Khama wants the government to clamp down on the country's independent press.
Interviewed on state radio shortly after the independent Mmegi and Botswana Gazette newspapers reported that the army was torn by nepotism and infighting, Lt Gen. Khama urged the government to "redefine" the role of media freedom, and to punish journalists who overstepped their bounds. "In society, there are rules governing most practices, to prevent abuse...but when the press commits indiscretion, and abuse their obligation, they don't expect to be clamped down upon." Lt.Gen. Khama's views were echoed by Minister of Presidential Affairs, Lieutenant-General Mompati Merafhe, who accused journalists of trying to undermine the nation's stability. "We certainly have to look into the possibility of dealing with reporters who write in the manner that the recent Mmegi reporter carried the story."
Never one to tolerate criticism from any quarter, Lt. Gen. Khama - son of the country's first president, Sir Seretse Khama - has a reputation for being extremely secretive; he has even refused to answer questions about the army in the High Court for "reasons of security".
His relationship with the private press soured in the early 1990s following media criticism of construction of the Botswana Defence Force's (BDF) new, multi- million U$ Mapharangwane air-base. Tenders for the project were not made public, and each year the Auditor-General's report raises questions about the BDF's handling of public funds.
MISA Chief Executive Methaetsile Leepile has warned journalists to be wary of the army chief . "To me he is potentially the single greatest threat to Botswana's nascent democracy," says Mr Leepile. "People with a propensity to intolerance of divergent views will do anything to silence those views." - Own sources, Mmegi, The Post.
More Angola Woes
ANGOLA: Another Angolan media worker has been killed, while others continue to be harassed. Eye-witnesses say radio sound engineer Artur Gilela was killed by a shell in the war-torn city of Kuito in mid-June. Mr Gilela, who worked for the state-run Radio Nacional de Angola, was one of only a handful of media workers who remained in Kuito during the bloody siege of the city by rebel UNITA forces. Gilela was apparently investigating a story when the shell slammed into the house he was in.
Around 35 000 people are believed to have died in the Kuito region since October 1992, when civil war between UNITA and the ruling MPLA re-started after Angola's first democratic elections. Other media freedom related matters reported since May:
* Mariano Costa, a reporter with the privately-run Imparcial Fax newsletter, was arrested at Luanda airport by government security agents on September 20 as he was returning from Portugal. Mr Costa was held for about 28 hours without charge, during which time members of the Home Affairs Ministry's "information department", SINSO, interrogated the journalist about stories he had written on UNITA. Mr Costa was not harmed, but when released, he was warned not to "make noise" about his detention, as his every move was being watched.
* Death threats were directed against freelance journalist Antonio Gouveia, who is also a leading member of the independent media workers association, Sindicato dos Jornalistas Angolanos (SJA). Family members say anonymous callers phoned Mr Gouveia's house on September 4, 5 and 6 saying they wanted to kill the journalist. Mr Gouveia was in Namibia at the time, and believes the threats were linked to an article he submitted to the weekly Correio da Semana newspaper about South African mercenaries fighting in the Angolan civil war.
* Another freelancer, Gustavo Costa, has been sued for defamation by Oil Minister, Albina Affis who - Costa reported in a story filed for the BBC in May - is alleged to have mismanaged state funds. In December, Mr Costa received anonymous death threats after he filed other stories on government corruption to the BBC, and colleagues believe the defamation suit is part of a semi-official campaign to discredit Angolan journalists working for foreign media organisations.
* In late June, Journalist and human rights activist, William Tonet, was prevented from leaving Angola to act as an observer during Guinea Bissau's elections. The authorities said Mr Tonet - who is President of the Angola Human Rights Association (ADHA) - could not leave Angola because of his pending trial, in which he is accused of raping a young woman. Mr Tonet was charged with rape shortly after the ADHA published a report critical of conditions in Luanda's prisons.
* Mr Tonet's colleague, journalist and ADHA secretary-general Lourenco Adao Agostinho is reported to be in poor health having been jailed for two years on charges of embezzlement. Mr Agostinho was also charged shortly after publication of the ADHA prisons report. - Own sources, SJA, WiP Committee.
A New Form Of Stone Subbing!
TANZANIA: For the second time this year, police have raided a print works with a view to censoring stories in newspapers waiting to go to press. Police arrived at the privately-owned Business Printers in the capital Dar-es Salaam during the evening of June 30, and demanded to see stories which were about to be published in the weekly "Wasaa" newspaper. Having been shown the stories, the police left, taking no further action.
Bernard Palela, editor of the daily Business Times, which belongs to the same group as Business Printers, says a rumour had gone around parliament that "Wasaa" was going to publish a story accusing the Prime Minister of accepting bribes. The same night, police officers went to the printers, only to find that "Wasaa" did not have any such story.
According to MISA's representative in Tanzania, police also raided the government-owned Printpak print works on April 22, and ordered that an article in the weekly "Moto Moto" criticising President Ali Hassan Mwinyi's style of leadership should not be published. The printers agreed to withdraw the article, but it was later published in another Kiswahili weekly, Wakati ni Huu, which is printed by a different company. - own sources
Amendment Lives On...As Loffler Sits Tight
SWAZILAND: Plans are still alive to make it a criminal offense to publish "false or derogatory" statements about members of the Swazi royal family. The government's proposed amendment of the 1938 Sedition and Subversive Activities Act must still be tabled in parliament. As it stands, anyone contravening the new law will be liable to minimum 10 years' and maximum 20 year's imprisonment, or a fine of between R 10 000 and R20 000 (U$ 2 900 - U$ 5 000).
With the king being Swaziland's head of state, and other royals serving as ministers, journalists fear any report critical of the government could be interpreted as an offense under the amended law. To make matters worse, journalists believe offenses under the act will be "non-bailable", which means suspects could be detained indefinitely without charge while a case against them is investigated. Meanwhile, Douglas Loffler, publisher of the independent Times of Swaziland, is still waiting to hear whether an appeal against the termination of his work permit has been successful.
Mr Loffler - British citizen who has lived in Swaziland since buying the Times in 1975 - was given until the end of June to leave Swaziland, and has been awaiting for the outcome of his appeal ever since.
Almost the entire Times staff marched on the Home Affairs Ministry protesting at the government's decision not to renew Mr Loffler's permit. - Own sources, Times of Swaziland
New Act 'removes Safeguards'
BOTSWANA: Parliament has passed legislation which journalists and human rights activists fear could pose a threat to media freedom and other basic human rights.
A walk-out by MP's seeking amendments to and deferral of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act was not enough to stop the passing of the bill, which allows for the confiscation of documents and information, and could also be used to force journalists to reveal their sources.
Ostensibly designed to combat corruption and other white-collar crime, the act could be turned against media workers, just as other apparently worthy legislation such as the National Security Act - passed at a time when Botswana was being destabilised by neighbouring South Africa - has been used to suppress and punish the publication of information, say journalists. And the Botswana Human Rights Centre says the new law removes "the safeguards which protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual under the Botswana constitution".
The new act authorises investigators to enter and search premises, and to seize documents without a warrant. "Our newsrooms may be entered, searched, and documents, articles seized and detained," says the Mmegi newspaper in its editorial of August 4. The bill also empowers the president to block investigators' access to documents and information "likely to prejudice national security", which Ditshwanelo feels could prevent the exposure of corruption in the security forces. - Mmegi, own sources
Features - Malawi:
MIKE HALL looks at ways of guaranteeing a future for Malawi's vibrant but reckless media.
For 30 years, Malawi had a special reputation for locking up its journalists and writers, and for censoring everything construed as being remotely critical of those in power.
As if to make up for the past, last year's explosion of private newspapers symbolises the country's new- found freedoms, and serves as an inspiration to media freedom campaigners throughout southern Africa. True; many newspapers were - and remain - little more than propaganda sheets for one of the three main political parties, publishing outrageous stories and exhibiting appalling standards of journalism. Others, however, have successfully informed the public and placed critical issues on the political agenda. The state-run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has also contributed to the new climate of media freedom by giving considerable air-time to opposition parties' election announcements, political debates, and civic education programmes, although there has been little critical analysis to go with it. Foundations for a free, independent and pluralistic media have been laid through the courage, determination and entrepreneurship of journalists and publishers. However, the industry is poorly developed, fragile, and open to political interference, and it would be a shame if what has been built so far was allowed to stagnate for want of support at this critical time in the country's history.
Midst intense competition, most newspapers have already seen their circulations drop drastically and, as public interest in politics wanes, many publications may well be forced to close, while others will struggle to survive, unable to expand or improve for lack of money.
Indicative of the cash-flow problems faced by most newspapers is the MK1.8 million (U$260 000) they collectively owe Uniprint, a printing company owned by Mines and Energy Minister Rolph Patel - one of only two companies capable of printing mass- circulation papers in Malawi (the other is owned by former president Kamuzu Banda).
It is assumed that market forces and discerning readers will eventually decide which papers survive. However, a more likely scenario is that the better, more established independent papers will suffer most; their overheads are higher than those of the sensationalist news sheets published from people's homes, while investment so desperately needed by the independents tends to come with political strings attached. Banks remain wary of loaning money to the media, while private investors can make higher returns elsewhere.
Subsidies are not the answer either. Instead, alternative ways must be explored to help efficient publishers build their businesses and sell their products.
Training is also crucial. Journalists, for example, have little understanding of libel laws, let alone the need for balance. News sense is at best eccentric, and at worst nonsensical, while newspaper design is often non-existent.
There is no institution of higher education in Malawi offering journalism as a major subject, and most publishers instead rely on short courses offered in the region; courses which aid doors seem only too willing to finance. However, a more comprehensive, long-term approach is needed if the industry in Malawi is to develop in a meaningful way.
The media also needs greater legal protection. While the interim constitution explicitly guarantees media freedom, a host of restrictive laws remain on the statute books.
The formation of the Journalists Association of Malawi (JAMA) and the Publishers Association of Malawi (PAM) has had moderate success. PAM runs a media resource centre complete with computers and desk-top publishing facilities, and JAMA is compiling a training strategy and a code of ethics. But both organisations need strengthening if they are to play a more active role in media development.
With President Bakili Muluzi's government having pledged to respect media freedom, now is the time to lobby for changes which will ensure the government remains true to this commitment; restrictive legislation must be repealed, and structures reformed - in particular, the MBC should fall under the jurisdiction of an independent broadcasting authority.
Sooner or later the new government will be tempted to clamp down on dissent, and without adequate protection, journalists once again will be the first casualties.
- Mike Hall is a Malawi-born, freelance journalist. Expelled from Malawi in 1990 while working for the BBC, Reuters and Financial Times, he co-founded The Post in neighbouring Zambia, serving as the paper's editor until returning to Malawi in April 1994.
Action Plan Agreed A plan of action aimed at developing the Malawian media has been adopted by journalists, publishers, broadcasters and other interested parties. Passed by more than 60 delegates attending a conference convened by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in Blantyre from August 17-19, the plan of action calls for legal reforms, to include the urgent passing of a Freedom of Information Act, and amendments to the constitution which prevent the passing of laws which abridge press freedom and override free expression.
Delegates decided that a body comprising representatives of government, the media, lawyers, and human rights organisations should identify laws which interfere with media freedom and the free-flow of information, and that these laws should be repealed.
It was also decided that a manual explaining laws affecting the media should be prepared, and workshops held, to familiarise journalists with their legal obligations.
Turning to the electronic media, the action plan says broadcasting as a whole, and the MBC in particular, should be controlled by independent bodies "representative of the public at large". The MBC was "the property of the public at large" and therefore had the "mission to inform, educate and entertain". A second radio channel and possible television station should be part of a restructured MBC, the action plan states.
Consensus was also reached on the need to encourage private and community broadcasting, and to establish a Broadcasting Reform Committee to formulate new broadcasting policy guidelines.
Media training is also covered by the action plan, which recognises the immediate need to run short and medium-term courses - supported by both donors and the government - together with in-house training, while the feasibility of a four-year university programme was investigated.
An exchange programme between Malawian media workers and their colleagues elsewhere in the region is also proposed, while the Journalists Association of Malawi has been mandated to co-ordinate training programmes and research into training needs.
Delegates were critical of the stranglehold commercial printers had on Malawi's newspapers, and they urged the Independent Publishers' Trust, which is trying to buy its own press, to co-operate with other publishers "to ensure that the trust is genuinely representative of all publishers, as well as independent from government".
The monitoring of media ownership and the effects this has on media freedom is also called for, along with a strategy to increase newspapers' access to advertising, and to popularise the use of media in education.
Publishers are urged to lobby government on the removal of taxes on advertising, newsprint, typesetting equipment, and other taxes which "inhibit the viability and growth" of print media, while PAMA is asked to initiate market research into media usage and consumer trends.
A feasibility study on setting up a national distribution network for print media is also considered a priority, together with an investigation into making the Malawi News Agency independent of government.
Meanwhile, government plans to publish newspapers using tax-payers' money are opposed as delegates felt this would provide unfair competition to private publishers. If the state went ahead with these plans, government publications should be free of charge and should not carry paid-for advertising, says the action plan.
Finally, delegates recognised the need to set up a media trust - to included human rights organisations, lawyers, trade unions and religious groups - to co- ordinate the development of the Malawian media.
Don't Let The Facts Ruin A Good Story!
BRUCE COHEN discovers that, in Malawi, words speak louder than actions.
"Assassination plots galore - ruling party associated with the evil act," trumpeted the headline in a recent edition of the Malawi News, one of a dozen newspapers which have sprung up to face the challenge of Africa's newest democracy.
Not a shred of evidence - let alone a coherent allegation - was marshalled to buttress the headline that claimed the new government was all set to murder its political opponents. But with generosity not often found in the Malawi press, the paper did at least concede that such behaviour was "very strange" for a ruling party which had campaigned on a human rights ticket.
Most newspapers in Malawi are not interested in mundane matters of fact, evidence, rebuttal or attribution. They find far more satisfaction in using their pages as a rough canvas for raging brushstrokes of rancid insult and wild propaganda, signing their vitriol "A reliable source".
Parties, politicians - even cabinet ministers - own, either directly or indirectly, most of the country's newspapers. At the time of writing (newspapers frequently appear and disappear), Malawi had three dailies, yet their combined circulation could not have been more than 25 000 copies. There were a further dozen weeklies, all eight-page tabloids, selling for the same price and haemorrhaging cash. It is a media free-for-all of surreal proportions. There are other Dali-esque features to the political landscape in Malawi, which in May became a "democracy" after more than 30 years of Kamuzu Banda's despotic greed. Foreign observers declared the election free and fair with even less conviction than they gave the thumbs-up to South Africa's ballot less than a month earlier; in Malawi, democracy means a country ploughed in narrow furrows of regionalism, and ripe for secessionist misery.
So it's not really surprising that the bitterest of political foes in the run-up to the elections, Aford and the MCP, formed a post-poll alliance to tackle the new southern-controlled government. And they galvanised around Malawi's only truly national symbol - Kamuzu Banda!
Amazingly, Bakili Muluzi's government - and the press - have hardly begun to probe Dr Banda's ill-gotten empire, and don't seem that interested in doing so, either. According to most senior journalists in Malawi, Dr Banda literally owns the country, having simply stolen the wealth of the nation. They point out that the biggest buildings in Blantyre, the food industry, and most of the printing and publishing sector are owned by Dr Banda and his cronies. Meanwhile, the new president exudes gung-ho charm. Mr Muluzi laughs generously when introduced to the newspaper editor who - a few weeks previously - had published a picture of the president in prison uniform. Charges against the newspaper had been dropped just days before the two met at a cocktail function at the president's official residence, the Sanjika Palace
At the function, Muluzi chats affably with local journalists, most of whom have never been to the palace (it was Banda's bunker), and some of whom take generous advantage of the presidential bar with triple J&Bs at three in the afternoon. Generally the president has shown remarkable patience with the newspaper fraternity and its shoot-from-the-hip, factless journalism.
Many Malawian journalists are embarrassed by the ethical and professional void which engulfs their media, and they want to see changes. At a conference held in Blantyre in mid-August, and organised by the International Federation of Journalists, I joined Malawian journalists to thrash out a plan of action for building a democratic, independent media. Four days later we staggered out having draw-up a wide-ranging development programme aimed at building a legal framework for free expression, training journalists, establishing a media council, lobbying for a reduction in taxes and duties on media, and strengthening the publishers' association and journalists' trade union.
However, action may take a little longer. - Bruce Cohen is Managing Director of the South African Newspaper Education Trust (SANET).
Malawi's Media Circus
Visiting journalist CHRISTOF MALETSKY was shocked at the levels to which Malawian journalists stooped for a scoop during the recent election campaign, as he now reports.
Malawi's media was unable to emerge from its self- made cocoon of rivalry, and failed to make a meaningful contribution to the country's first democratic elections.
Most of the 23 newspapers publishing during the election campaign were party-owned, and most were guilty of attempting to assassinate - metaphorically speaking - the characters of the three main Presidential candidates; Bakili Muluzi of the United Democratic Front (UDF), Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda from Malawi Congress Party (MCP), and Chakufwa Chihana from the Alliance for Democracy (Aford).
While editors claimed objectivity, mud-slinging was the order of the day, and the papers neglected genuine election coverage and voter education in the process. This left the politicians - not to mention the public - with a bad impression of journalists; Mr Chihana commented at one press conference that there were only about ten trained journalists in the whole of Malawi.
The majority of editors and journalists I spoke to rejected Chihana's view, but admitted that many publishers and editors had joined the profession after the repeal of anti-media legislation simply because they had the money to do so.
The Editor of the Independent, Janet Karim, said the lack of suitably trained journalists posed a severe constraint on the media. For Ms Karim, "quality", ethical reporting, objectivity, and fair comment were all unachievable if media workers were not suitably qualified to "perform their cumbersome duties". News reporting hit a shocking low when, among others, the Malawi Democrat published a four-page supplement aimed at destroying Mr Muluzi's image shortly before Malawians went to the polls. In what appeared to be a last-ditch bid to stop Mr Muluzi from winning the presidency, the publication gave extensive coverage to reports that Mr Muluzi had stolen six pounds (U$9) some 26 years ago.
Reporting standards plummeted still further when two other papers - The Monitor and The Chronicle - broke one of the cardinal rules of journalism and identified rape victims - to the extent of publishing the victims' photographs next to those of the rapists. Of course, the victims were unaware of their rights and did not sue the papers; one of the women even granted an interview.
Foreign journalists covering the election were shocked at the way the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), which has only one radio channel, dominated the show.
At press conferences, journalists had to speak into the MBC microphone when asking a question, and there was never the chance for follow-up questions as the MBC reporter would have already handed the microphone on to the next person.
During Mr Muluzi's maiden press conference as the newly-elected president, Zimbabwean journalist Shepherd Mutamba was asking a question when the president's protocol staff intervened and ordered the journalist to take the MBC microphone before continuing. "I thought I was speaking to President Muluzi," Mutamba responded.
- Christof Maletsky works for The Namibian newspaper in Windhoek.
"Elections No Guarantee Of Democracy"
International anti-censorship campaigners, Article 19, has outlined "urgent steps" it believes need to be taken to "protect and foster freedom of expression in Malawi".
"Free elections, while signalling a democratic transition, represent no more than an important first step," wrote Article 19 Executive Director Frances D'Souza in a letter to Malawian President Bakili Muluzi. But the elections alone were "no guarantee that democratic principles will be realised in government."
Ms D'Souza urged Mr Muluzi's government to distribute countrywide copies the new constitution "as neither the media nor the public has had much opportunity to analyse and discuss it".
"Beyond this, Article 19 urges the government, as a matter or priority, to make various changes to the law in order to ensure that the rights embodied by the new constitution are protected in practice," Ms D'Souza added in her letter of July 20. These changes were outlined in Article 19's report on the election process, which - in reference to the media - recommended that:
* The Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) should become accountable to an independent broadcasting authority.
* The MBC Act should be amended so that government loses its power to intervene in editorial decisions taken by the corporation.
* The state news agency MANA should undergo similar changes.
* Further reform to the MBC Act was necessary to ensure that the licensing of private broadcasting - currently regulated by the act - was free from political interference.
* Article 45 of the Penal Code, and the Censorship and Control of Entertainment Act - which empower the government to ban publications, books, films, records and plays - should be promptly repealed.
* A Freedom of Information Act should be introduced "to give force to the constitutional provisions for freedom of information".
* The Official Secrets Act should be replaced by laws which "shift the burden of proof to the government to demonstrate why official information should not be released".
* Interpretation of defamation laws should be up- dated to allow widespread comment and criticism of public figures.
* Support should be given to existing media and human rights organisations concerned with media freedom issues. "The formulation and implementation of ethical standards should be carried out within the media itself, without state interference".
The report further commented on the need to nurture "an economic climate" which would "facilitate the growth of the independent media". "In the present climate...the financial vulnerability of the press...may well have a negative impact on long-term freedom of expression".
To effectively help Malawi overcome its current regional divisions, the media had to become more critical, analytical, skilled, and "issue- orientated", said the report.
- "Freedom of Expression in Malawi: The Elections and the Need for Media Reform" is available from Article 19, Lancaster House, 33 Islington High Street, London N1 9LH. Fax. +44 71 713 1356, e-mail: email@example.com.
Features - South Africa:
From porn to police files, and the courts to "counter-revolutionaries", residents of the new South Africa find there is more to media freedom than a Bill of Rights
It's There In Black And White
South African leaders have reacted sharply to recent media criticism. ANTON HARBER looks behind the trading of insults at flaws in the country's new- found media freedom.
RELATIONS between the government and sections of the media are at a low ebb, President Nelson Mandela told newspaper editors recently. A surprising view considering the South African media has never enjoyed as much freedom and protection as it does now. Although many restrictive laws remain on the books, these are being effectively ignored; attempts by some government departments to restrict and manipulate the press are falling flat; and there is a livelier, more open political exchange than this country has ever seen.
Furthermore, the media has Bill of Rights protection which allows more freedom of expression than ever before. So what's the problem? Some ANC leaders are issuing thinly veiled threats against "counter-revolutionary" media that "undermines" the reconstruction and development programme and is overly critical of the new government. This has caused the scare and the recent exchange of insults.
But behind the rhetorical flourishes lies another message, presented in a more sober and reflective way by key ANC leaders such as Mr Mandela and Deputy President Thabo Mbeki. Their message is this: the media, that great champion of change, has itself not gone through the kind of change expected of it. Mr Mandela has outlined three problems he sees with the media:
* Ownership, which the President feels is "not only concentrated in a few hands, but reflects the patterns of racial exclusion characteristic of the old era"
* Ditto for media management
* Broader socio-economic issues, such as the constraints of illiteracy and language, which limit the majority's ability to exercise their right of free expression.
The industry is still dominated by a few large players who tend to think alike. The post-1990 era has seen the closure of several publications - Vrye Weekblad, New African, Work in Progress, and the Sunday Star - which has reduced the diversity of voices, and increased the dominance of the few strong players.
These major newspaper groups also neglected journalistic training during the 1980s, leaving a critical shortage of fresh, young journalists with the skills and talent to lead a transformation of the industry.
In short, the South African media industry is still overwhelmingly dominated by newspapers and journalists who spent the 1970s and 1980s abusing the liberation movements, supporting the apartheid government, and doing deals with the defence force to contain sensitive information.
However, the ANC cannot simply point fingers, as its own communication has been poor. The new government has inherited a huge structure in the South African Communication Services (SACS), which spends hundreds of millions of rands ostensibly communicating between the government and the people. If the message is not getting through, this is surely where blame must start.
Furthermore, different media have different functions; some, like national television, have public service obligations, while independent newspapers, for example, have different duties to their readers. Statements on the media made by Mr Mandela and Mr Mbeki seem to miss this subtlety. If the ANC is unhappy with the range of media diversity, why is it not doing more in government to encourage and enhance new and different voices? It could divert the millions being spent on SACS propaganda into promoting media diversity through an independent body such as the Independent Media Diversity Trust, which is battling with a shortage of funds to promote and encourage new and different voices. It could also speed up the work of the Independent Broadcast Authority to bring new voices on to the airwaves.
And the ANC could be more consistent in its own media policies. If Mandela wants to see more diversity in media ownership, why did his party say or do nothing about Argus newspapers' latest purchases of the Cape Times, Natal Mercury and Pretoria News, which gave the group an insurmountable media monopoly in three major South African cities?
Instead, the ANC stayed silent. Could this be because the Argus group's new owner , Irishman Tony O'Reilly, is a personal friend of Mr Mandela? - This article first appeared in the Weekly Mail and Guardian, of which Anton Harber is editor.
Lambaste, Lampoon But Be Fair
Leading ANC politician, TOKYO SEXWALE, draws the line between criticism and an assault on press freedom
Journalists are understandably touchy about their freedom to express themselves. Politicians, too, are touchy about attempts at character assassination and the dissemination of disinformation.
If the media is to reflect the diverse views of our society, the question of media ownership - and access to the media - must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
At the heart of the current debate about the media is the fact that a tiny, wealthy, liberal movement continues to control and manipulate some of the largest "public voices" in the country. They use their resources to advocate a "liberal agenda". Unfortunately, this results in a situation where these newspapers are often unable to reflect the cultural diversity, views and aspirations of the majority of our people - despite the valiant efforts of individual journalists on those newspapers. We (the ANC) do not believe harsh criticism of a particular editor or journalist constitutes an attack on the media; it is in direct response to the way that editor or journalist covers a particular issue. No one is beyond reproach. No editor or journalist can ever hide behind the rock of press freedom and think that rock is holy. And no one should distort the truth in the name of press freedom.
We realise that taking criticism is all part of our job. Entering politics is, in itself, extending an open invitation to the world to criticise, lambaste, lampoon and scrutinise every single aspect of one's life - we welcome this. But the same goes for other public jobs, such as editors and journalists.
When one is in a leadership position, one expects to come under the media spotlight. However a line of honesty has to be drawn - and when someone crosses that line, as we think some journalists have done recently, we believe we have the right to hit back. Not because we are politicians, not because we are members of the ANC or any other party, but because we are ordinary citizens, entitled to our constitutional rights, for which we have fought long and hard. So no one should be surprised when ordinary citizens get tired of having their name tarnished, or the truth about their activities distorted. But remember one thing: we are not in the business of arresting, banning or hanging journalists. We just believe we should expose those who distort the truth or try to mislead society. Let us equally highlight all freedoms in our Bill of Rights, and not only those that favour us.
- This is an edited version of an article first published in the Weekly Mail and Guardian.
And Now For The Good News...
Khaba Mkhize looks relaxed these days, and he has every reason to be. As a senior journalist on Pietermaritzburg's daily, The Natal Witness, Khaba was on the sharp end - literally - of reporting the years of bloodshed which earned the Pietermaritzburg region the nick-name "Valley of Death". Between 13000 and 15000 people died in five years of war between supporters of the African National Congress and rival Inkatha Freedom Party, but Khaba survived.
When editor of the Witness's Zulu-language supplement, Khaba found himself on a war-lord's hit list on account of a story published in his paper. For years Khaba dared not stop in the street to tie his shoelace for fear of assassins; Khaba spent most of his time watching his back, and he used to wake at the slightest sound in the night.
But he survived. And to survive, Khaba and his colleagues adopted what he terms the "cockroach technique" of journalism. "A cockroach knows when to emerge in a kitchen," Khaba explains. "It knows when to stop, and it knows how to fly."
Morals, too, had a part to play; morals which Khaba says motivated the staff of The Witness also to play a pro-active role in seeking a solution to the fighting. Khaba recalls the day another war lord came to The Witness wanting the paper to convene for him a press conference. Obligingly Khaba took up the phone and arranged the war-lord's press conference. "We in the media are mediators," says Khaba. "Our main objective is to bring about good societies." To illustrate the point further, Khaba cites how The Witness prints extra copies of the newspaper which it then distributes free of charge to schools with no text books, and thus provides the students with at least some form of reading material. "We did this not because we wanted the credit, but because we wanted to wake up the next morning."
Such tactics seemed to work as peace came to Pietermaritzburg long before it did other parts of the country; a fortunate turn of events which escaped the attention of many journalists. During the run-up to the April elections, an American film crew asked Khaba to show them where they could "find some trouble". So Khaba drove them through the former Valley of Death, where they saw little besides the lush and peaceful, rolling landscape. The Americans were not pleased.
"The biggest fight that was expected to take place in South Africa never happened," Khaba says, referring to the impression created by the media's pre-election coverage. "We the media were actually misleading a lot of people because of our...bang-bang-body-count journalism."
Khaba is not speaking with the benefit of hindsight. Back in September 1993, when the prophets of doom were billing South Africa as the next Armageddon, Khaba was predicting a peaceful conclusion to the South African elections, complete with IFP participation and subsequent acceptance by IFP President Mangosuthu Buthelezi of a senior post in a government of national unity.
According to Khaba, The Witness tried to compensate for the media's blood-lust with its own brand of "development journalism"; a deliberate attempt to bring positive news onto the front pages. "City set for development boom" says the lead headline on one Witness story Khaba pulls from a pile of back editions. "New hope for the poor" says another. "Kwazulu guns now illegal".
"Beautiful stories, all of them beautiful stories," Khaba croons. "We have come a long way to assert that blood is not the only story. We can live without those (kind of stories) and still produce papers that can be enjoyed by everybody." - David Lush
No More Manure
In the wake of Defence Minister Joe Modise's attempt to muzzle a newspaper, STEPHEN LAUFER examines the crucial role government media advisors have in ensuring a freer flow of information.
WHEN former US President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated in 1981, he found a White House press office which had not changed much since a century earlier. Within weeks, the media-conscious Hollywood president had ushered in the age of the "spin doctor".
Championing transparency, the new South African government faces a similar need to modernise the way its officials relate to the media, if for different reasons. The challenge here is not to introduced more razzmatazz into press relations, as Reagan did, but to turn around an information culture which, for four decades, functioned on the mushroom principle: keep the population in the dark, spread manure over them, and if a clear head shows itself, cut it off. It may be tempting to replace the old style "fax us the questions and we'll fax you the answers" with corporate communications song-and-dance. That is not what South African democracy needs. but rather an open relationship between politics and the press. There are some good media professionals among the government's new appointments, and they will have to look for a role as true bridges between politicians and the media, and thus the public. These advisors will have to move quickly to ensure that a debacle like Defence Minister Joe Modise's attempt to gag the Weekly Mail and Guardian never happens again. Modise walked into a minefield because he lacked professional guidance. Imagine if he had been warned of the downside to his generals' proposal to seek a court interdict to prevent the paper publishing information provided by former security agents. Instead, nothing had changed since the era when the press was kept in check by a combination of heavy- handed authoritarianism and patronage. Government spokesmen were not regarded as essential political advisors in the Ministry of Defence, and the minister paid the price.
South African politics has changed, and so must the role of the ministerial spokesperson. The Modise debacle shows the urgent need to jack-up government media operations to a level where advisors' professional advice is sought on a regular basis by the political principals - in the interests of both a free flow of information and confidentiality on those rare occasions where secrecy is truly justified. As politics becomes more complex, the primary task of ministerial media advisors must be to inform debate in line with the government's stated policies of openness and accessibility.
Their secondary task is to ensure that the dinosaurs of the old order - many of whom remain in office for reasons of national reconciliation - should not be allowed to colour relations between the government and the media by actions motivated by the old mushroom principle. - MISANET
Information age? What information age?
We are living in what has been dubbed "the information age"; a convenient clich=82 for a form of western decadence which allows people access to so much information, they take it for granted. However, when American computer scientist Professor Bill Wresch came to lecture at the University of Namibia, he discovered that information in southern Africa was a luxury. And the tendency of governments to treat information as such, as well as the fundamental failure of the authorities and media to communicate well with the public, is causing the region to fall still further behind the "west". Focusing on Namibian information managers, who control companies' computer systems, and day labourers, who wait on Windhoek's street corners looking for work, Prof Wresch analysed how these diverse groups of people received information. He discovered that day labourers interviewed were totally isolated, and although most had basic literacy skills, they could not afford to buy televisions, newspapers, magazines or books, all of which are taxed in some form or other. Those who did occasionally manage to watch television could not understand the programmes as these are all in English - the official language. Which left radio broadcasting in the labourers' mother tongue as their only source of information.
Ironically, the information managers surveyed also struggled to stay informed. They had to rely on expensive technical publications from Europe and North America to keep abreast of developments in their profession. And few read local newspapers, as these were, as one said, "propaganda items" in which business coverage was "atrocious".
As a result, most bought South African and European newspapers, and relied on the electronic media - as well as people they worked and socialised with - for local information.
Furthermore, attempts by information managers to keep pace with technology were hampered by poor telecommunication links and a national phone company which - until recently - was reluctant to modernise. In conclusion, Prof Wresch recommended that: * The government should scrap "taxes on information" levied on imported publications.
* Radio and television stations should have bilingual broadcasts, while the government should publish and distribute indigenous-language newspapers free of charge as "no one should feel an alien in their own country".
* Job opportunities nationwide should be publicised by the government, while the media should portray a true picture of urban life for the benefit of those living in rural areas who - like many of the day labourers invterviewed - move to town expecting to find wealth and a good life. * Government needs to formulate telecommunications policy and to support the development of a diverse telecommunications industry. - Own sources
Misa Hq "On-Line"
MISA headquarters went "on-line" in July and started communicating with the outside world via electronic mail (e-mail), thanks to the donation of a modem by the Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists (CCPJ), which runs the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) e-mail network of media freedom organisations.
E-mail "connectivity" was also made possible through hours of voluntary assistance by Namibian gynaecologist and e-mail fundi, Dr Eberhard Lisse. Meanwhile Sangonet's Mike Jensen, who has spent more time than most cruising the information super- highway, is now busy linking MISA members to e-mail as part of the SIDA-funded MISANET project. Pictured: MISA Administrator Julia Manasse checking the latest e-mail on an AST 4/33 Bravo computer, bought from Windhoek's PC Centre with funds provided by DANIDA for equipping MISA's new office in Windhoek (Enough abbreviations for now - Ed.)
Pana Hits Cyberspace
The re-vamped Pan African News Agency (PANA) has started distributing news and information via electronic mail (e-mail), unleashing the potential to tame the continents' appalling telecommunication links, which contributed to the agency's initial demise.
Babacar Fall, a Senegalese journalist and communications specialist who is in charge of the PANA revival plan, considers the dismal state of African communications to be a primary cause of problems hindering development projects throughout the continent.
"For twenty years, the priorities for development in Africa have included agriculture, health and the environment. But none of these can succeed if there's no communication," says Fall.
Besides its news service, PANA intends to produce regular bulletins dealing with topics such as economics, health, education, and the environment. As well as using e-mail, PANA is planning to distribute its "products" via a satellite network being established as part of the multi-million U$ restructuring of the agency. - own sources, Wired magazine.
Sources safe in public interest
JUSTICE JOHN MANYARARA looks back at the landmark decision of a Zimbabwe court to uphold the right of journalists to protect their sources
IN MARCH this year, a High Court judge upheld journalist Geoff Nyarota's right not to reveal the identify of those who supplied information which helped him, as the then-editor of The Bulawayo Chronicle, to expose the involvement of Ministers and senior government officials in a corruption scandal. However, the judge went on to find that Mr Nyarota and The Chronicle's publishers, Zimpapers (in which the government has a majority shareholding), had defamed one of the officials implicated in the expos=82; Foreign Affairs Minister Nathan Shamuyarira. The newspaper article in question was published in the December 14, 1988 edition of The Chronicle, and alleged that Mr Shamuyarira was involved in the corrupt allocation of motor vehicles assembled by the Willowvale assembly plant in Harare. What became known as the "Willowgate Scandal" took place at a time when there was a critical shortage of vehicles in Zimbabwe.
Following the publication of the December 14 article, which was the climax to a series of such news stories run by The Chronicle, President Robert Mugabe appointed the Sandura Commission to investigate the alleged corruption.
Mr Shamuyarira was subsequently cleared of involvement in the scandal, the commission finding that all the minister had done was to write a note introducing his farm manager to the head of Zimoco Motor Distributors in Harare, requesting that the latter help the farmer to buy a motor vehicle "if he could".
Prior to the publication of the December 14 article, President Mugabe and Vice-President Musonda had separately urged the public and the press to come forward with evidence of corruption rather than merely "speculating" on the matter. Nyarota and his staff at The Chronicle were already investigating Willowgate with the help of Willowvale workers who wanted to see the corruption stopped.
On October 12, 1988, The Chronicle featured a front page story detailing the findings of its investigations, and the public responded with letters and phone calls to the paper supporting the report.
As the paper's investigations continued, Mr Nyarota discovered the police were conducting their own inquiry, and a source showed him the police's "Willowvale List" of names of those suspected of being involved in the corruption scandal. Similar to that drawn up by Mr Nyarota, the police list twice contained Shamuyarira's name, although with a question mark against it.
By then, some of the Ministers already named in The Chronicle's articles had adopted an openly hostile attitude to the investigation, and Mr Nyarota feared the exercise might be "aborted" by the likely detention of himself and some of his reporters. So Mr Nyarota published the December 14 article, naming Mr Shamuyarira, without having a chance to clarify why a question mark appeared against the Minister's name on the police list; Mr Nyarota had tried phoning Mr Shamuyarira, but the minister had not returned his call.
Having been "cleared" by the Sandura Commission, Mr Shamuyarira sued Mr Nyarota and Zimpapers for defamation. When the case went ahead in May 1993, the Minister's lawyer asked the court to order Mr Nyarota to identify his sources. The journalist refused, primarily because he as a journalist and then-editor of The Chronicle (Mr Nyarota was "promoted" to an ineffectual desk-job after exposing the Willowgate scandal) had guaranteed his sources that their identities would never be revealed.
The Judge's approach to this issue was that there was no separate guarantee of press freedom under the Zimbabwe Constitution, and that Zimbabwean law was based on the English and South African common law. Under such laws "a journalist, as such, does not enjoy a privileged position...which permits him to withhold the sources of his information...upon being ordered (to do so) by the court", the Judge said. However, the Judge went on to rule that the Civil Evidence Act of Zimbabwe gave the court a power to declare any evidence to be "privileged (from disclosure) in the public interest" if the court was satisfied that:
* It would be detrimental to the public interest for the evidence to be disclosed
* Such detriment would outweigh any prejudice to the parties, or the interests of justice, that might be caused by non-disclosure of the evidence.
The Act extends the meaning of "public interest" to include, among other things, "confidential sources of information which are concerned with the enforcement or administration of the law", or the "prevention of detection of offences or contravention of the law".
Applying these principles to the Nyarota case, the court decided that Mr Nyarota's police source was entitled to give the information to the press as it appeared to him that the information might be suppressed by the officials revealed by the police investigation.
At the same time, Mr Nyarota had received similar information from his Willowvale sources and he "conceived it as his duty to expose this scandal..." said the Judge.
"When the Acting Minister of Home Affairs (who was also named in the scandal) threatened to have him (Nyarota) and his deputy detained over the matter, he (Nyarota) had not choice but to go ahead and publish without further delay," the Judge concluded. It was on such reasoning that the court came to the conclusion that it was not in the public interest to order Nyarota to identify his sources of information, and they have remained anonymous.
On the other hand, the court was satisfied that The Chronicle article in question was defamatory of Mr Shamuyarira, and the Minister was awarded Z$15 000 (U$2000) in damages against Zimpapers and Mr Nyarota. - Justice Manyarara is a retired Zimbabwean High Court judge, and is also a MISA trustee.
* MISA's Annual General Meeting is to take place in Swaziland from November 21-23. A packed agenda is to include discussions on language, community radio, constraints on indigenous media, training needs, research, new technology, laws, ethics, networking, and SADC policy on independent media. The AGM will also include the presentation of MISA's annual media freedom award at a gala dinner, to be addressed by a leading celebrity from the region, as well as the election of a new Governing Council. The Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Harare has again agreed to fund the event.
* R41 000 (U$11 700) of MISA Education and Production Trust funds went to the Harare-based coalition of independent video producers, Southern African Communication for Development Network (SACOD). The funding, initially provided by the Norwegian development agency, NORAD, enabled SACOD to conduct a needs-assessment survey in seven Southern African countries. SACOD is to publish results of the survey.
* Further MISA Trust funds, to the tune of R35 000 (U$10 000), will fund a management consultancy to help the News Company in Botswana (publishers of the Botswana Gazette) make their product more competitive. Funding for the project has been sourced from UNESCO.
* Electronic Mail (e-mail) consultant Mike Jensen is in the process of setting up member organisations on e-mail as part of the MISANET project, which has received R250 000 (U$71 000) of funding from the Swedish Development Authority (SIDA).
* Consultant Janet King is to install ACCPAC accounting computer software at seven newspaper accounts departments in the region between September and October 1994. The project, which is also being funded by SIDA, is designed to improve financial management at the recipient organisations.
MISA's training season began in August with a five- day advertising sales workshop run by SANET in Johannesburg, and attended by 17 participants from Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Although happy with techniques learnt during the course (sessions on marketing research and selling advertising space proved particularly popular), some participants felt they were not provided with enough reading materials. Others wondered whether they would be able to implement back home what they had learned. Commented one: "The real test would be to convince Management of the real need for these changes..."
Courses For Journalists
The Nordic SADC Journalism Centre now calls for applications for four courses in 1995:
Reporting From a Foreign Country Dates: 20 Feb - 17 March (3 weeks) Venue: Zimbabwe (Zimbabweans not eligible). Advanced Radio Reporting Dates: 3-28 April and 7 Aug. - 1 Sept. (8 weeks) Venue: Namibia (Only for radio reporters) Investigative Reporting Dates: 8 - 26 May and 4 - 29 Sept. (8 weeks) Venues: Tanzania and Botswana (Apply with samples of work). Rural Reporting Dates: 6 - 23 June (3 weeks) Venue: Botswana Deadline For Applications: 1 December 1994Apply by Fax, telex or express mail. To apply you must be a citizen of a SADC country and have three years' experience as a journalist. Your application MUST include:
* Name of the course you wish to attend * An essay of 500 words on why you want to apply * CV with details of your career as a journalist * Passport nationality, number, dates of issue and expiry * Name of media organisation you work for * Your age, sex, and postal address * Your phone, fax and/or telex numberThe NSJ Centre pays for travel, board and lodging for course participants. Women are particularly encouraged to apply. Those who attended NSJC courses in 1994 are not eligible.
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Digging Deeper THE POST Zambia's biggest-selling newspaper @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Southern Africa's international newspaper THE WEEKLY MAIL AND GUARDIAN Available on e-mail (Contact Bruce Cohen: email@example.com) @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Look in THE MIRROR for a true reflection The Mirror PO Box 903 Maseru 100 Lesotho Tel. +266 315602 @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Message-Id: <199410260130.VAA24815@ipe.cc.vt.edu> Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 18:26:36 -0700 From: "Arthur R. McGee"
Subject: Free Press newsletter Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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